The beginning of every academic semester is a time of change. Students arrive and graduate, go abroad and return with new perspectives. No two semesters at Bowdoin have ever been identical.
This year, in particular, represents a time of watershed administrative change. Safa Zaki became the 16th president of the College and the first woman to hold the position. Michael Pulju was recently announced as the senior associate dean for student affairs and dean of students, after serving at the College for eight years. Natalie Turrin became the director of the Sexuality, Women and Gender Center. Additionally, the College received an influx of new faculty members this fall.
Embracing these landmark changes is a way to bolster our Bowdoin community values. We have the opportunity to welcome these new leaders and build an inclusive Bowdoin. At the same time, new leadership ushers in a period of institutional malleability. It is imperative that we put energy into advocating for changes of our own.
Zaki, Pulju and Turrin all express a desire to directly connect with students and the greater Bowdoin community to shape their roles moving forward.
“I want to arrive at Bowdoin and spend my first few months listening,” Zaki said in an interview with the Orient last spring. “I think there are a lot of good ideas that come from the community.”
Get to know Zaki, Pulju, Turrin and all of the other new faces on campus, both as people and professionals. Embrace them and give them a chance.
A new set of campus leaders means an opportunity to reverse years-old institutional shortcomings. Though many of the aforementioned people have experience at peer institutions, or even in other positions at Bowdoin, their appointments represent a shifting of energy and long-held priorities.
While embracing new leadership is important, it can’t stop there. The College community should not quietly accept these administrative shifts as the endgame. Realizing the full potential of these changes will take work.
Student leaders, in particular, have power to work with the new administration to drive progress. They should take advantage of the chance to shape campus on behalf of the students they represent.
It’s not just student leaders who should shoulder this responsibility. We urge all students to take this newness as a call to action. Arrange to meet with newly-hired administrators to hear their perspectives on campus issues and share your own. Vote for student representatives who will communicate your priorities with College leadership. Ask administrators for what you want and hold them accountable.
Change is here. Do not meet it with complacency.
This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Editorial Board, which is composed of Janet Briggs, Nikki Harris, Emma Kilbride, Kristen Kinzler, Vaughn Vial, Sam Pausman and Juliana Vandermark.